Friday, July 19, 2013

A Reality Show I'd Watch ...

I had an idea this morning for something that may already exist, but I'm not going to Google it because I don't want to know. At least not until I finish this post.

Here it is: reality-show psychologist.

I'm thinking of it in terms of real-estate shows, but just as there are 4,000 versions of "House Hunters," there could be franchise opportunities with this niche, too.

This morning, I caught a few minutes of "Bang for Your Buck." Generally, I shun the "cheap-to-produce, fill-up-the-schedule, maximize-profit, content-be-damned" shows, but I'd seen the episode before and I remember how crushed one of the homeowners was that Kristan dissed her cabinet hardware. And what can I say? It's hot outside. I was in the mood to sneer.

The wife homeowner had pulled a bait and switch on the husband homeowner and dropped $495 on square crystal pulls for the cabinets. He wanted something with a little more heft to grab on to, but she insisted they were the right choice because they were pretty. She was very proud of her "form over function" aesthetic.

Now, I'm no designer, God knows. I was raised by a practical mother. And so, as the homeowner was gushing about her brilliant choice of iridescent blue glass accent tile behind the stove – "They looks like pearls!" – I said to the TV, "Are you nuts? Behind a stove? Do you realize what a pain in the ass that's going to be to clean?" Ridiculous.

Then again, maybe she's never going to use the stove. It cost nearly $5,000, but plenty of people buy high-end appliances in some lame attempt at status. She also recoiled at the agent's suggestion that the fridge feature ice and water access in the door. Since they were in ... Arizona. "That would be tacky," wife homeowner huffed. With her, it was all about appearance. Function was an afterthought in her kitchen, never mind that the kitchen is intended to be the most functional room in a home.

Another wife homeowner was very offended that Kristan pointed out that the sink, stove, and refrigerator were on the same wall. There's a reason it's called a work triangle. But no, this wife homeowner said, the work-triangle idea was very '80s. I laughed at my TV. "No, dear, the work triangle very functional." Maybe that wife homeowner doesn't cook, either. Kristan also gave a thumbs down to the one weird chair stuck in an empty corner. Wife homeowner said it was a design statement. Maybe. If your design statement is "Shunned Guest."

Kristan suggested building in some bench seating and adding a table. Wife homeowner thought that was a brilliant idea. I guess she'd never seen a breakfast nook before.

I didn't bother watching the third couple again. But I was amused to be reminded of just how offended couples are that a designer would dare enter their homes and criticize a single thing. Had they not seen the show before? Have they not seen any show before? Conflict, kids. Shows need conflict. Which is why reality shows try to hard to inject drama even where none really exists.

Did they think that theirs would be the only homes in which a designer wouldn't find fault? Like Ralphie's theme fantasy in "A Christmas Story" in which his teacher floats along the blackboard writing "A++++++++++++"? Yeah, no.

And what's with the people on the house-hunting shows who are hung up on double-height entryways? I remember one guy being very clear that he wanted a home that would impress people when they arrived. What's up with that? Most guys I know aren't hung up on foyers. Most guys I know are happy with a house so long as it has a single wall large enough to hold the biggest-ass TV they can buy.

So I think it would be really fascinating to have a psychologist sit down with these people and ask them what's behind their choices and wishes. Agents don't ask those questions on these shows. If a client wants a big-ass foyer, fine, the agent finds homes with big-ass foyers. So long as a commission's involved, who cares, right? But why, dude, do you want people to be impressed when they walk into your home? What's lacking in your life that you feel the need to flaunt your home in order to impress people?

The bridal version would be even more interesting. Or more sad. Like the woman who was going to blow her budget on a $17,000 dress because she was a "diva" and she was going to have whatever she wanted. I'd love to ask her a few questions about her childhood.

And don't even get me started on that "Real Housewives" business. I've never watched an episode, but I've caught glimpses while surfing and I've seen commercials. Wow. Talk about women who could use some help.

So, have at it, producers. All you need is a camera, a shrink, and a couch. The pool of candidates is near-endless.


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